This past Saturday, June 13th, was National Weed Your Garden Day. One of the most important things we can do as a gardener is to keep weeds out of our vegetable and flower beds.
Too many weeds can crowd plant roots and force them to compete for water and nutrients. When a plant is “fighting”, they have less energy to grow or bloom. Weeds can also provide hiding places for insects and cut down on air circulation, which is essential to minimize the risk of fungal diseases.
6 Chemical-Free Tips to Keep Your Gardens Weed-Free
1: Make sure your gardens are weed-free before planting
Spread a tarp over the area for a couple of weeks before planting. This will cut off the sunlight to the weeds beneath and hasten them on their way to weed heaven.
2: Mulch your garden after planting
There are a few things to think about though:
- Consider the pH of your soil when applying pine straw or pine bark mulch, which can acidify the soil slightly.
- Leaves are great but keep the soil cool so don’t apply until June, when the soil is warm.
- Newspapers work great as mulch, but you might want to top with an inch or two of regular mulch for looks.
- And, if you use grass clippings, consider the way you treat your lawn. Do you use a lot of chemicals? Do you want those same chemicals in your garden?
3: Pour boiling water over tough weeds
This works great, but don’t do it too close to ornamentals.
4: Flame Weed them
My neighbor has a Flame Weeder. It’s really cool (or really HOT!) and very effective. You can only use it on well-watered gardens, however, and you must have a hose nearby.
5: Eat them
So many of what people consider weeds are edible, including dandelions, wood sorrel, wild violets, and many others. There are many books out there to help you identify edible wild plants.
6: Hand pull
An ancient Chinese proverb says “The best fertilizer is the shadow of the gardener.” How true! Hand pulling, at least on occasion, gets you up close and personal with your garden. What better way to get close than to turn over the occasional leaf to check for insect eggs or to catch that first glimpse of a baby squash ready to grow or appreciate the delicate beauty of that little green bean flower? Hint: if you water your garden first, the weeds are way easier to pull.
What is a Weed, Exactly?
Remember, a weed is only something growing where you don’t want it. A rose in your driveway is a weed. In my backyard, wild violets, dandelions, buttercups, and clover are NOT weeds. In my vegetable garden, they are.
Get Advice for YOUR Specific Garden Situation
Stop by the Great Big Greenhouse and talk with us about the best way to control weeds in your gardens. With so many ways to control weeds, let us help you choose the best method for your unique garden situation.